Fayette County, Kentucky

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Fayette County, Kentucky

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Mystery of an Ancient Civilization

History of Lexington is the history of two distinct cities and peoples. Of the first Lexington we know nothing other than it was the seat of a powerful and populous people. To date no one knows who they were, where they came from and what happened to them. Evidence shows that they enjoyed a condition of civilization superior to that of the Indians, who succeeded them.[1]

In his 1806 book Travels In America, Thomas Ashe told of a vast network of huge open-room caverns that he discovered in 1783 beneath the city of Lexington. The chamber contained exotic artifacts of an unidentifiable civilization, including a stone altar. The caves were also said to be filled with human bones, and mummified remains. These mummies were of unusually tall stature, and like the mysterious Mammoth Cave mummies, they had red hair.[2]

Respected historian George W. Ranck, writing in 1872, also discussed this “lost city” buried beneath Lexington:   “The city now known as Lexington, Kentucky, is built of the dust of a dead metropolis of a lost race, of whose name, and language, and history not a vestige is left. Even the bare fact of the existence of such a city, and such a people, on the site of the present Lexington, would never have been known but for the rapidly decaying remnants of ruins found by early pioneers and adventurers to the Elkhorn lands… The testimony of the learned Prof. C.S. Rafinesque, of Transylvania University, fully corresponds with this, and proves the former existence in and about the present Lexington of a powerful and somewhat enlightened ante-Indian nation.”   “Kentucky’s first historian [John Filson] tells us of stone sepulchres, at Lexington, built in pyramid shape, and still tenanted by human skeletons, as late as two years after the siege of Bryant’s Station. “They are built,” says he, “in a way totally different from that of the Indians.” Early in this century, a large circular earthen mound, about six feet in height, occupied a part of what is now called Spring street, between Hill and Maxwell… A stone mound, which stood not far from Russell’s Cave, in this county, was opened about 1815 and found to contain human bones.”[3]

"PREHISTORIC DEFENSE WORKS and monuments on all sides of Lexington, notably at Russell Cave, testify that this war cradle was the fixed dominion and that a dead Lexington was the metropolis of the mysterious people of relatively advanced civilization eventually dispossessed by the Red Man. Curious earthern vessels and copper utensils, weapons and ornaments were unearthed by pioneers. Skeletons were removed from a stone mound at Russell Cave as late as 1815. Maps and plates of these ante-Indian fortifications together with relics are in the Smithsonian Institute."[4]

Was this race exterminated by the conquering Indians, this is unknown. But the devastated territory was called "Kantuckee," meaning "dark and bloody ground." To the Indian Tribes, Kentucky is full of the souls of a strange people which they believed were long ago destroyed by their ancestors and was ever a spirit land, a place of superstition and awe. While hunting parties visited and war bands fought in its bounds, no tribe ever made Kentucky their permanent home.[5]

First KY Newspaper Established In Lexington, 1787

The first newspaper ever published west of the Alleghany mountains was established in Lexington, in 1787, by John Bradford. It was then called the Kentucke Gazette, but the final e of Kentucky was afterward changed to y.[6]

1833 Cholera Epidemic

The terrible ravages of the cholera in 1833 will ever keep that fatal year memorable in the annuals of Lexington. The devoted city had confidently expected to escape the scourge on account of its elevated position and freedom from large collections of water, but an inscrutable Providence ruled it otherwise. About the 1st of June the cholera made its appearance, and in less than ten days fifteen hundred persons were prostrated and dying at the rate of fifty a day. An indescribable panic seized the citizens, half of whom fled from the city, and those who remained were almost paralyzed with fear. Intercourse between the town and country was suspended for six weeks; farmers had to abandon their grain to the stock for want of laborers; the market-houses in the city were empty and desolate, and famine would have been added to pestilence but for the great activity of the authorities.[7]

Infamous Ladies of Lexington

  1. Jennie Hill, a madam who ran a brothel out of the Mary Todd Lincoln house at 578 West Main St in the 1870's.[8]
  1. Mary Belle Cox aka Belle Brezing was born on June 16, 1860, in Lexington, Kentucky. She was said to be the role model for the character Belle Watling in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind. She was Lexington's most Notorious Madam. Brezing opened her third brothel at 59 Megowan St. (currently the southern corner of Wilson St. and N. Eastern Ave.). It was lavishly appointed and decorated in almost a parody of the cluttered Victorian style. The area around the house was referred to as "the hill," and Brezing wasn't the only brothel in the area, but certainly the most expensive and popular. Brezing attracted clientele from all over the nation who visited Lexington for its horse breeding and racing industries.[9]


  1. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyfayett/historyfour.htm
  2. http://www.kyforward.com/jshs-ky-built-on-the-dust-of-lost-race-lexington-good-match-for-zombie-parade/
  3. http://www.kyforward.com/jshs-ky-built-on-the-dust-of-lost-race-lexington-good-match-for-zombie-parade/
  4. http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyfayett/shrines.htm
  5. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyfayett/historyfour.htm
  6. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyfayett/firstpaper.htm
  7. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyfayett/cholera1833.htm
  8. http://libraries.uky.edu/libpage.php?lweb_id=341&llib_id=13
  9. http://libraries.uky.edu/libpage.php?lweb_id=341&llib_id=13

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posted by Cheryl (Stone) Caudill